Wednesday, 28 November 2007 2:46 PM

Lawyers Preparing for Big Changes

The Chief Justice of Solomon Islands, Sir Albert R Palmer, will open a workshop for lawyers in Honiara tomorrow on the new civil Court Rules which will come into operation early next year.

Around 50 private and Government lawyers will receive an intensive 2-day professional update on the new Rules at the workshop.

The Rules of Court are the blueprint for how civil cases are managed in the courts and set out all the processes by which people can pursue or defend their private legal rights.

These new Civil Procedure Rules are the result of many hundreds of hours work by Judges, lawyers and court experts over the past two years.

The project was only made possible by the ongoing financial and technical assistance of the RAMSI Law and Justice Program.

"We now have a system of civil procedures which is second-to-none in the Pacific and beyond," the Chief Justice said.

The existing system was handed over by the British at independence in 1978 and is modeled on the one that existed about 50 years ago.

Many other countries, including the United Kingdom, have since updated and streamlined their civil court procedure.

The new Court Rules are not only more modern and streamlined and they also bring the procedures of the High Court and the Magistrates Court into one system.

"Differences between the way each court operates have been minimized - and that is good news for the community as going to court should now be more affordable", Sir Albert said.

A significant change being introduced in the new system is that all litigation will be subject to the over-riding principle that justice is to be done without unnecessary delay or expense.

Technicalities will no longer be able to be used to unfairly delay court cases and the Judiciary will exercise far more control to ensure that cases proceed as quickly as possible.

He also said, "In appropriate cases other forms of assisted dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, will be encouraged to speed up the process."

Solomon Islands will shortly join the ranks of those progressive nations whose civil law procedures have been modernized and made more user-friendly.

"We have taken a large step forward with these new Rules and, with the assistance of the legal profession, the Government and donors like RAMSI, we will continue to improve the system so that justice remains visible, tangible and accessible to all," Sir Albert said.

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